I’m Not Cut Out For This – The Coldest Long Run

I’m heading up to New Hampshire this weekend so I decided to take advantage of my day off for President’s Day yesterday and get my long run in early. As I got ready to head out during the warmest part of the day it was 17 degrees with a real feel of 10. (Seriously – it is not supposed to get this cold in Virginia!)

This cold weather wimp was not excited, but knowing that temperature would be considered downright balmy in New Hampshire, I wasn’t putting it off. For those that run through winter weather like this all the time – I am impressed. As a runner I know I am in the minority, but I will take my 90-degree, 90 percent humidity DC summer runs over this any day.

I have always been one to wimp away from the extreme cold – don’t ask me how I survived my first 22 years in growing up in Syracuse, NY because I’m really not sure. I have done plenty of long runs on a treadmill including several 20 milers, but after a couple recent tough days on the treadmill, I was hesitant to go for 16 on one Monday.

I put on all the layers – a tank, Oiselle wool base layer, another long sleeve on top and my Oiselle Livinit jacket. I also had two pairs of socks on, a hat, neck gaiter and gloves. I was not messing around.

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I’m not cut out for this I thought as I waited impatiently for my watch to find the satellites. Who thought training for a spring marathon would be a good idea anyways?! I thought this again as my legs felt really slow and heavy just one mile in.

At about mile two I realized my brilliant plan to wear my hydration pack instead of carrying a handheld was not so brilliant. Two miles was all it took for the water in the tube to completely freeze making it impossible to get any out. See – I’m not cut out for this!

By mile eight the bargaining had already started. I could divert to the Rosslyn Metro, but no if I keep going it’s just a couple more miles until I could hop off the trail to the airport metro and get home that way, because no one is cut out for this cold. By mile 10 though, as I passed the airport, I finally lost count of how many other runners, walkers and bikers were out on the trail. I got to at least 50 so I couldn’t stop now. (Man, we are a crazy bunch!)

After passing the airport I told myself to go just a few more miles and I could hop off of Four Mile Run Trail and call an Uber to get home. At mile 12 as I was opening my backpack and trying to poor water out of it into my mouth, I couldn’t help but think again, what am I doing?! I’m just not cut out for this!

Can your eyeballs freeze? Serious question – because I think at this point in the run mine had. Everything was getting blurry and I was having a tough time blinking. (I think that it’s more likely that because I sweat so much even in this cold, my eyelashes were frozen – but still, it was a crazy experience that this fair-weather outdoor runner has not experienced before.)

During the final three miles I came up with every excuse in the book for why it would be OK if I just stopped running and got that Uber the rest of the way home. Then after what seemed like way too long (probably because I ran ridiculously slower than I had hoped) my watch beeped signifying the 16th mile.

Thank God! I was so incredibly happy to have this run over with. As I lay in the fetal position on my bedroom floor texting my husband that I had made it all 16 miles, I thought never again will I run in temps like this as I’m totally just not cut out for it.

Except that – maybe I am! I think one of the best things about being a runner is constantly pushing your limits and finding ways to do things you never thought you could.

Tell me about a time you did something you thought you weren’t cut out for!

 

 

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Footprints: Monday Morning Recap

Last week was a great start at getting back on track. I put in 40 solid miles with a mix of speedy runs and one brutally cold long run! I’ll have a post later this week on my race schedule and updated goals for the spring.

Here is the day-by-day breakdown:

Monday: I put in just over 6 easy paced miles on the Mt. Vernon trail after work in some major wind gusts and chilly weather. There were a couple gusts that seriously felt like they stopped me in my tracks! P90X core routine.

Tuesday: I hit the gym after work for a full body strength workout followed by my P90X core workout.

Wednesday: I put in a 9 mile tempo run along the Mt. Vernon trail on a beautiful night. It felt so great not to have a winter hat on for a run! Quick core workout.

Thursday: As good as Wednesday’s run felt, today’s was awful. The temps were in the low teens with wind chill and the wind never let up. I was so cold by the end of my 14 miles – I don’t know that I’ve ever willed a run to be over so badly! My route took me over both the Memorial Bridge and the 14th Street bridge where it took all my energy to keep running forward and not get pushed sideways by the wind! It had to be amusing to onlookers! It was nice to have the long run out of the way early though!

Friday: Rest Day.

Saturday: My Mom was in town, so we hit the gym together. I put in a quick warm-up followed by five 1 mile repeats with a 2-minute recovery. I got it a quick upper body workout as well!

Sunday: Today was the highlight of my week. Temps reached 65 for my late afternoon 5 miler along the W&OD in shorts!! My excitement got the best of me on what should have been an easy run and after starting out at a 9 minute pace each mile got progressively faster finishing with a 7:20 one. Boy did it feel good though! P90X core routine.

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Footprints: Monday Morning Recap

This week had some highs and lows, but ended on a high note and I got in nearly 55 miles so all in all it was good stuff! I need to absolutely focus more on strength training as other than daily P90X core workouts (I won’t list them each day since I put it here!), I only got in one strength workout this week. After struggling with speed workouts during the week, I had probably my best run of the whole training cycle for my long run Sunday, so I’m hoping to carry that momentum into this week.

Here’s the day-by-day breakdown:

Monday: I kicked Monday off with a lunchtime run to the gym for an easy 6 on the treadmill.

We actually got a little snow on Monday!

We actually got a little snow on Monday!

Tuesday: Rest day!

Wednesday: I hit up the gym after work for a ladder speed session. After a 1.5 mile warm-up, I ran a 400, 800, 1200, 1600, 1200, 800, 400 ladder with a 400 recovery jog between each repeat. I started strong, but partway through the mile just could not keep up with the pace I wanted and had to dial it down a bit. I was able to finish strong with my last 400, but the second 1200 and 800 were a bit slower than I wanted leaving me a little discouraged.

Thursday: Today was an easy 7 miler on the treadmill that breezed by. I felt really good and followed it up with a short upper body workout.

Friday: I finally braved the cold temperatures for an easy-paced 8 miler after work along the Mt. Vernon trail. I finished at a good clip, but my legs felt really heavy and tired for the second half of the run. If it weren’t so cold out it probably would have taken me a lot longer to finish, but I wanted to get back inside! I somehow actually overdressed for this with a tank, my Oiselle wazzie wool baselayer and a jacket. I completely sweat through all three layers and that wind did not feel good for the last few miles!

Saturday: I put in 10 miles on the treadmill at the gym hoping to hit 7 of them at marathon pace. I could only get 5 in before a side stitch got the best of me and I had to go a bit slower than planned. I was a bit down about this after my previous speed workout hadn’t gone so well either and was not looking forward to Sunday’s long run at all.

Sunday: On paper I did everything wrong for this 14 mile run. I overslept so I didn’t have time to get my run in first thing. Ian and I had lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings so we could watch the Packers-Cowboys game, and I drank a giant soda and didn’t exactly eat lightly or healthily. After about an hour trying to let my stomach settle I headed for the gym, put the Broncos game (disappointing) on my little treadmill TV and hit play on Pandora on my phone. I started slow thinking I would just trudge it out. With the Hanson’s plan, my long runs are supposed to be a bit faster than easy pace, but of course slower than marathon pace. By a mile in I had gotten within a few seconds of my target pace and somehow I kept getting stronger as I went along! This was just what I needed and a big-time confidence booster.

Footprints: Monday Morning Recap

This week was fairly light as I spent Monday traveling and didn’t want to go too hard with my half marathon on Saturday. Here’s the day by day breakdown. To be honest I ended the week feeling a bit down with a less than stellar time for my half, but I’m going to keep pushing forward so I can get after that BQ at Marine Corps Marathon in six weeks!

Monday: Travel Day.

Tuesday: I hit the track for 7X1000 meters with a 1 minute rest between each repeat. This was the first week back at my tempo pace as opposed to my faster interval pace with a longer recovery, so even with the shorter rest period I felt pretty good. This was the bright spot of my week for sure. Splits (Goal: 4:38 each) Actual: 4:33. 4:31, 4:35, 4:35, 4:34, 4:34, 4:33.

Wednesday: I got up before dawn and hit the dreadmill for the long run I didn’t fit in over the weekend. With the half coming up at the end of the week I didn’t want to go too far, so I got 13.5 in before calling it a morning and getting ready for work.

Thursday: Core workout.

Friday: Rest day.

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Saturday: Race day. Despite my time not being where I feel like it should at this stage of my training, I really did enjoy this race and it was a perfect day to run in D.C. Full recap coming soon – time was 1:50:11.

Sunday: Recovery Day.

A Conversation with Bart Yasso

On Tuesday, the coolest thing happened – I got to interview Bart Yasso, Runner’s World’s Chief Running Officer. I was so excited that I immediately called my fiancé, parents and brother to tell them about it. Call me a runnerd. I don’t care, I’m still too excited!

Bart Yasso has one of the coolest jobs on the planet and he knows it. It’s so refreshing to talk to someone who truly loves what he does and appreciates it. We talked training tips, Yasso 800s, race strategy and race experiences. I was so impressed by how genuinely nice he was and that he took the time to thoughtfully and thoroughly answer all of my questions. He had some great advice and some cool race experiences, and I’m so excited  to share them with all of you.

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Training – Going for that BQ or ultimate PR
Bart outlined 3 key workouts for successful marathon training. “The cornerstone of everything is the long run,” he said. It’s all about proper pacing on your long run too as he sees many runners do them too quickly and leave their race out on their training runs. During the long run you should focus on building endurance and not worry about speed. He highly encourages runners he coaches to try to negative split their long runs – finish faster than they started.

For example, a runner doing a 20 miler with a marathon goal time of 3:30 should run the first 10 miles at roughly a 9:30 pace then start working up to a 9-minute pace and wrap up with 3-4 miles at or close to marathon goal pace.

The next key workout is a hill/speed session to work on increasing turnover and leg speed. He recommends hill repeats earlier in the program and speed workout later. For hill workouts, mixing it up can lead to more success than just powering up the same hill repeatedly. Try running 4 shorter hill repeats, 4 longer ones and 4 shorter ones again. This lets you work on faster turnover on the short hills and strength on the longer hills.

The final key piece is the tempo or marathon pace run. You need to teach your body to run the pace you want to run in the race. Start with a 10-15 minute warm-up, work your way up to 8-10 miles at marathon pace and wrap up with a 10-15 minute cool down.

In between these key workouts you’ll have your easy recovery runs and cross training that make up the rest of your training. Another common thread among runners who have achieved marathon success is that they’ve been able to run injury free for a couple year period. It’s so important to listen to your body as most injuries he sees are basic overuse ones. (Been there.)

Yasso 800s
I had to ask Bart about this famous workout named after him as I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with it. He says he gets that a lot and hears from runners that they use his name in vain quite often! For those not familiar with this workout, you do 10X800 and the time you can run your repeats in should correlate to your marathon finish time – i.e. if you run your repeats in 3:20 each you should be able to run a 3 hour and 20 minute marathon.

Bart says he found this correlation decades ago looking at his training log, but maintains that he’s never said it works for anyone but himself and it certainly isn’t based on any kind of science. Amby Burfoot, however, thinks it works for everyone and wrote about in Runner’s World years ago making the workout famous.

Race Day Strategy
There’s no doubt that the latter portion of any distance race is more mental than physical, Bart says. During the early part of a race you need to be smart and run a proper pace then in the latter part of the race you need push yourself to run faster than you thought you could. While you should have a plan and think about what pace you can sustain, Bart says, don’t kill yourself with a set time – let the race play out and come to you.

His runners that have had the best success also run negative splits. When you’re running faster and passing people at everyone at the end of a race it’s the best feeling in the world and consequently when you feel like you’re on a death march getting passed by everyone it’s the worst feeling in the world, he says. Having been in both these positions in races, I couldn’t agree more.

Bart shared a great story about a 10k run, 50 mile bike, 10k run race he did years ago where he took the lead on the bike. The final 10k was an out and back and he ran as fast as he could swearing he could hear footsteps closing in on him. After the turnaround he realized he was a good 3-minutes ahead of everyone and went on to win the race. If he’d turned around he would’ve slowed down, but instead he “ran scared” and convinced himself to keep pushing faster than he thought he was capable resulting in a big win.

The Journey
Bart has been lucky enough to race all over the world on every continent. As someone who has “only” run 9 marathons and would have a tough time picking a favorite, I really put him on the spot by asking his top races. He said that it has changed over the years as his running changes and that’s what makes it fun. It’s all about the people and the experiences along the way.  He says the races he remembers the most are the ones he has connections with, so running the Rome Marathon where he was able to stop at several spots and chat with his Mom who came along on the trip holds a special place in his heart. He also calls running the Comrades Marathon an ultimate running experience. As a long-time fan of Nelson Mandela he said the race is what brought him to South Africa, but experiencing the country and history of it made it such a special journey.

Seriously, this man has such a cool life!

Runwell’s Perspire to Inspire Video Contest
Bart also chatted with me about Runwell’s Perspire to Inspire video contest in support National Recovery Month. Bart was very candid about his struggles in his youth with drugs and alcohol, which he talks more about in his book, My Life on the Run. “Running saved my life,” he said. He thinks he’s lucky to have found running so young and is willing to share his story in hopes that it can help people to not choose that lifestyle or show people who have fallen down that path that there is a way out.


The Runwell contest is very cool. You enter by submitting a short video describing how you’ve personally helped to inspire others to lead a healthy life. It’s a powerful message and I can’t wait to hear people’s stories. The winner who will be determined by the vote of an online community brings home a pretty cool prize too that includes a slew of things plus free race registration and airfare to a race of their choosing. Check it out and submit your story!

Workout Weekend

I love long weekends. There’s something about having just that one extra day that makes such a big difference. I had no particular plans for Labor Day weekend and I wasn’t traveling anywhere, so that meant plenty of time to get workouts in! Between Friday and Monday I got two double-digit runs in, a hot yoga class, a short run, a track workout and a spin class in and loved every second of it. OK, well maybe not every second of it, but I sure felt great after finishing each workout!

One of the best things about making Oiselle’s Volée team has been the instant support from everyone on Twitter. It’s so cool to see everyone come together online and root each other on. Even better, I’ve already gotten together for a couple group runs with some fellow birds. I teamed up with Stephanie who I met on a group run a couple weeks ago for our 18 mile long run this weekend and it definitely made the miles fly by! One of my 30 before 30 goals was to do more group and partner runs since I love that aspect of running, but often find myself running alone. I think being a part of the Oiselle team will definitely help make me a more social runner!

Enjoying some Starbucks post 18 miles!

Enjoying some Starbucks post 18 miles!

I am constantly saying I need to do more yoga, but rarely follow up on it. I got a Facebook invite for a community class at Dancing Mind Yoga over the weekend though. The studio isn’t too far from me and for just a $5 donation to a very good cause I was able to check out the class from new instructor, Alexis. Alexis was an amazing instructor and I never would have guessed it was her first class. She kept us moving right along through all 75 minutes from one pose to the next. It was a hot yoga class so the room was about 90 degrees and I really had to push myself.

Nervously awaiting the start of class in my new Oiselle flyte tank and lesley knickers!

Nervously awaiting the start of class in my new Oiselle flyte tank and lesley knickers!

The more I go to yoga classes, the more I’m learning that it’s OK that I’m not super flexible. There were some poses I struggled with, but there was always a modification I could do to start with. I also loved how much this class worked on strength moves – my arms were shaking during some of those side planks and my core got one heck of a workout. I got a card to test out one week of yoga there so I’ll definitely be back! If their regular classes are anything like that one I know I’ll come away feeling good, and it will definitely help to make me a stronger runner and stay injury free!

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Dancing Mind Yoga Studio

I was pretty nervous for my track workout this week. Track workouts are my favorite kind of run training, but for some reason I always get super nervous before them. I second guess myself and worry I’m not going to be able to make the split times I want or complete the number of reps I’ve planned on. This rarely ever happens, but I still get the nerves like it’s race day. I’d probably be more worried if they didn’t come. I got up fairly early, but not early enough as the sun was already pounding down on the track as I got there ready to do 6X800s at interval pace (as defined by my coach as a bit quicker than tempo pace w/ a longer recovery, but done while jogging instead of standing still) in the hot and humid mid-morning. My first rep was a second slower than my goal and my legs felt like lead. During my recovery jog though I could tell the next one would be better, and it was. I took 5 seconds off and beat my goal for each rep after that only getting stronger as I went along.

I left the track feeling so energized and excited. It’s always fun to test out my speed. I was quickly glad I got the track workout done early after getting to my spin class. Just five minutes into spin and I knew there was no way I’d be able to get a quality run in after I was done. I did a body ride at Revolve with Dorothy, one of my favorite instructors there. I’ve done mostly real rides lately, so it was fun to mix it up with some mid-class weights. Dorothy had us pushing ourselves to the max, all-out sprinting and working our way up hills. It was great and left me wishing that I could have every Monday off for track workouts and spin classes!

Just in case you think I only did healthy things over my long weekend, I should probably share that that isn’t entirely the case. I also tried out a new recipe for some peanut butter-filled chocolate cupcakes with buttercream icing. Umm, delicious. Enough said!

PB Filled Choco Cupcakes

PB Filled Choco Cupcakes

 

 

Change of Scenery on the Run

The monotony of the same old route can be tough during marathon training, so I try and mix things up as much as possible. While sometimes I like to do my most familiar routes to test my fitness and make comparisons to previous times running there, I also like to run in completely different places on long runs. The not knowing what’s ahead can be intimidating, but the new scenery can help take my mind off of how far I have to run and help the miles fly by. Thankfully the D.C. area has an abundance of areas to run in so I never get bored.

At the beginning of August I made a trip home to Syracuse so I really got to mix things up and run around my old stomping grounds. I’ve lived in Arlington since 2006 now, so I really don’t run back home all that often. I got in a great track workout at my old high school overlooking the softball field I spent many hours playing and practicing on back in the day. We were still in the midst of some very hot and humid weather in D.C. at that point, so the nicest part of that workout was the 60 degree temps and slight, but cool breeze.

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I also got a long run in while I was home in the beautiful, but super hilly Green Lakes State Park. I actually worked at Green Lakes for three summers during college and it’s where I met my fiancé, so it holds a special place in my heart. It was a relatively mild day again, but a touch humid. I ran 17.2 miles over some major hills along the main road that runs through the park by the golf course before looping around the beach trails, which has to be one of the best spots to run ever. I also ventured up into some of the hiking trails by the campgrounds that I hadn’t explored before, which was fun and very challenging for this runner girl who usually sticks to the road. If you ever find yourself near Fayetteville, NY, find time to fit in a run here! You won’t regret it. I did my best to snap some shots on the run, so here are a few that didn’t come out super blurry!

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